“Stuff your eyes with wonder…live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic that any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day, every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that.” –Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451.
YOLO before it became some meaningless, trendy acronym?
I recently stayed up ’til 4 a.m. reading Fahrenheit 451. It was the last day of winter break and I was feeling simultaneously rebellious (against the thought of having a real schedule again) and excited (I like having structure and purpose in my life, what can I say?); the combination pretty much made sleep impossible.
This particular passage struck me pretty forcefully, because I’ve been thinking about the issues of uncertainty and how the lack of guarantees in life can actually be a very good thing (as evidenced by my previous post). Because of my recent sense of uncertainty, because I’ve come to the end of the plans I made as an undergraduate and extended with my Master’s program, my sense of wonder and excitement and sheer possibility is elevated like it hasn’t been since I was a preteen, traveling cross-country with my family. There is a whole world out there, just waiting to be explored.
I know, that doesn’t sound like an earth-shattering attitude, but I think hometowns can create a sense of inertia; after spending so much time in my hometown, watching my peers settle in and make deep roots, watching people try to leave but always end up coming back, knowing that I have a job here and family to fall back on and the advantage of familiarity that makes staying easy if not necessarily beneficial, I start to wonder if it is even possible to leave.
I think hometowns can easily feel like blackholes (or like the Hotel California)–once you go in, you don’t ever come out. If you’ve ever heard the song “Harlen” by Patty Loveless, you get the picture. Long-time residents actually seem to take pleasure in telling hopeful young people that they can leave for awhile, but never for good. I don’t want to be the bitter old person who smugly throws this platitude at the next generation.
Carpe diem, etc.